One injured in Zion rollover crash

One injured in Zion rollover crash

One driver is in the hospital after a two-vehicle rollover crash in Zion Sunday afternoon, officials said.

The crash at Lewis Avenue and 21st Street happened just after 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and both vehicles were left with signficant damage when Zion Fire Department first responders arrived on the scene.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

One driver was taken to Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan with non-life threatening injuries. Three others involved refused transport.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Published at Sun, 23 Feb 2020 23:42:45 +0000

Fury Wins WBC Heavyweight Title After Wilder’s Corner Throws in Towel

Fury Wins WBC Heavyweight Title After Wilder’s Corner Throws in Towel

Tyson Fury is a heavyweight champion once again, dominating Deontay Wilder in their title rematch Saturday night before Wilder’s corner threw in the towel in the seventh round.

A boxer in their first fight, Fury went on the attack in the rematch and knocked Wilder down twice before a flurry of punches in the seventh prompted his corner to call an end to the highly anticipated rematch.

“The king has returned to his throne,” proclaimed Fury, whose previous reign as champion was cut short by drugs and alcohol.

Fury dropped Wilder in the third round with a right hand that seemed to take the legs out of the champion. He put him down again in the fifth round, this time with a left hand to the body.

The end came at 1:39 of the seventh round when referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight after Wilder’s corner threw in the towel as he was getting pummeled in a neutral corner. Blood was pouring out of Wilder’s ear for several rounds and, in a bizarre scene, Fury appeared to lick drops of it from Wilder’s shoulder in the sixth round.

After the fight ended, Fury took the microphone in the ring and tried to get the crowd to sing along to “American Pie” with him.

It was the first loss for Wilder in 44 fights, and it came in the 11th defense of the title he won in 2015.

“Even the greatest have lost and come back,” Wilder said. “I make no excuses. This is what big-time boxing is all about.”

Fury stalked Wilder almost from the opening bell, using his jab to control the early rounds. He won every round on the scorecard of the Associated Press and was in total command of the fight when it ended.

Wilder briefly protested the stoppage, as a pro-Fury crowd at the MGM Grand hotel roared in delight.

“I wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield,” Wilder said. “He did what he did. There’s no excuses.”

Wilder, who at 6-foot-7 and 231 pounds was the smaller man in the ring to the 6-foot-9 British giant, was backpedaling the entire fight, trying to catch Fury coming in with a right hand. But he was never able to throw it effectively, and unable to deal with Fury’s jab either.

Two judges had Fury winning every round, while the third gave Wilder one round. Fury had a point deducted for grabbing and pushing in the fifth round.

“He manned up and he really did show the heart of a champion,” Fury said. “He’s a warrior, he will be back, he will be a champion again. But the king has returned.”

Fury had bulked up to 273 pounds for the rematch, vowing to change tactics and become the big puncher. He was true to his word, dominating early with a jab that stopped Wilder in his tracks and then landing combinations to the head and body.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO) came into the ring carried aloft on a throne with a crown on his head. Then he showed he was really the Gypsy King as he made it an easy night against a fighter who had gone 12 years without losing as a pro.

For Wilder it was a stunning end to an unbeaten mark that had seen him knock out 41 of his previous 43 opponents. But his devastating right hand was never a factor, and Fury seemed to walk through it. That was unlike the first fight 14 months ago when Wilder knocked Fury down twice on his way to a draw.

The rematch drew a sellout crowd of 15,816 that set a record of more than $17 million for the live gate and was expected to do well on pay-per-view. Both fighters were guaranteed $5 million but could make $40 million apiece. It was the highest grossing live gate in Nevada history for a heavyweight fight.

Published at Sun, 23 Feb 2020 06:00:03 +0000

Dwyane Wade’s favorite basketball memory was not with the Miami Heat | First Take

Dwyane Wade’s favorite basketball memory was not with the Miami Heat | First Take

Dwyane Wade joins First Take in Chicago for NBA All-Star Weekend and shares his favorite basketball memory, talks Jimmy Butler and the Heat and closing the chapter on his NBA career. (4:19) Wade picks Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks to come out of the Eastern Conference.
#FirstTake #NBA
✔ Subscribe to ESPN+ https://plus.espn.com/
✔ Get the ESPN App: http://www.espn.com/espn/apps/espn
✔ Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: http://es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE
✔ Subscribe to ESPN FC on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoESPNFC
✔ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: http://bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoNBAonESPN
✔ Watch ESPN on YouTube TV: http://es.pn/YouTubeTV

Exclusive interviews with Rachel Nichols https://urlzs.com/jNURe
Stephen A. Smith on ESPN https://urlzs.com/W19Tz

ESPN on Social Media:
► Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/espn
► Like on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/espn
► Follow on Instagram: www.instagram.com/f/espn

Visit ESPN on YouTube to get up-to-the-minute sports news coverage, scores, highlights and commentary for NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, College Football, NCAA Basketball, soccer and more.

More on ESPN.com: https://www.espn.com

White Sox Agree to Deals With Bummer, Garcia

White Sox Agree to Deals With Bummer, Garcia

The Chicago White Sox agreed Saturday to a $16 million, five-year contract with reliever Aaron Bummer that includes two club options, and a $3.5 million, one-year deal with infielder Leury Garcia.

Bummer is due $1 million in 2020, $2 million in 2021, $2.5 million in 2022, $3.75 million in 2023 and $5.5 million in 2024. The White Sox hold options for $7.25 million in 2025 and $7.5 million in 2026, with $1.25 million buyouts for either season.

Garcia gets $3.25 million in 2020, with the White Sox holding a $3.5 million option for 2021 with a $250,000 buyout. He avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25-million contract in January.

The 26-year-old Bummer had a 2.13 ERA and 27 holds in 58 appearances with the White Sox last season.

Garcia, 29, hit .279 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs and a team-leading 93 runs for Chicago last year.

Published at Sat, 22 Feb 2020 19:52:11 +0000

Q&A: Things to Know About Tokyo Olympics and Spreading Virus

Q&A: Things to Know About Tokyo Olympics and Spreading Virus

The Tokyo Olympics open in five months on July 24. The Paralympics open on Aug. 25. But the fast-spreading coronavirus from China is making Tokyo organizers very anxious.

Three deaths have been reported in Japan with more than 700 cases – over 600 from a cruise ship that was docked in Yokohama. Globally, more than 77,000 people have been infected in 29 countries, and more than 2,300 have died — almost all in China. China is the host for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Local organizers and the Switzerland-based International Olympics Committee have said repeatedly the games will not be canceled or postponed.

Since the modern Olympics began in 1896, they have only been canceled during wartime. And in 1976, 1980 and ’84 they faced boycotts.

Tokyo held the 1964 Olympics and was to hold the Olympics in 1940, which were eventually called off by World War II and Japan’s war with China.

The longer the outbreak continues, the more uncertainly it could create. Both the Olympics and Paralympics have been besieged with unprecedented ticket demand.

Here’s some questions and answers about the virus and its threat to the Olympics.

Q: WILL THE TOKYO OLYMPICS BE CANCELED OR POSTPONED?

The IOC, local organizers, the Tokyo city government and everyone involved is saying “no.”That includes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, a respected Japanese virologist said this week the games would have to be postponed or canceled if they opened tomorrow.

“I’m not sure of the situation at the end of July,” Dr. Hitoshi Oshitani said. He said it would be “difficult to have the Olympics (now).” Other scientists have said they can’t forecast what the situation will be in five months.

Q: ARE OTHER EVENTS LINKED TO THE OLYMPICS BEING CANCELED OR POSTPONED?

Yes.And the list is growing. Tokyo organizers announced very late on Friday night — near midnight Tokyo time — that training for 80,000 unpaid volunteers was being delayed until May or later. Some volunteers come from abroad. Organizers acknowledge they cannot run the games without them. Organizers this week also announced that a small test event in Tokyo Feb. 28-March 1 would be limited to only Japanese. The test is for Paralympic boccia and was to involve non-Japanese athletes.

Two upcoming test events — wheelchair rugby on March 12-15 and gymnastics on April 4-6 — are to have international fields. Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said this week he could not guarantee that non-Japanese would take part.

The Tokyo Marathon on March 1, usually with over 30,000 runners, is being limited to a few hundred elite athletes.

Dozens of sports events outside Japan are affected. Some Olympic qualifiers are being moved or postponed, which complicates life for athletes, sports federations, national Olympic bodies, and border officials who have to deal with health issues.

Q: WILL THE OLYMPICS BE MOVED TO ANOTHER COUNTRY?

Shaun Bailey, a Conservative Party candidate for London mayor, made that suggestion this week. It sounded like a political stunt. Some in London also wanted the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics moved to the British capital because of the Zika virus. The games went ahead and the mosquito-borne virus subsided.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said it was “inappropriate” to make a serious issue like the virus a talking point for London’s mayoral race. London held the Summer Games in 2012.

Q: WHAT ABOUT THE TORCH RELAY?

So far it is on. The relay starts on March 26 in Fukushima prefecture in northeastern Japan and will circulate around the country for several months. It will involve mostly Japanese carrying the torch, but certainly non-Japanese will be involved. Any change to planning would be a worrying sign.

Q: HOW MUCH MONEY IS INVOLVED?

Local Japanese companies have paid over $3 billion for sponsorship deals to local organizers, a record amount that is at least twice any previous Olympics. Local organizers say they are spending about $13 billion to organize the Olympics, although a national audit report puts the cost at twice that much.

U.S. television network NBC pays about $1 billion for the broadcast rights to the Olympics. The July 24-Aug. 9 Tokyo Olympic slot is mostly determined by television. Moving the Olympics back a few months — when the weather is cooler in Tokyo — would seem impossible with the sports broadcast calendar filled with American football, college football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey. The European soccer schedule is also packed beginning in fall.

Almost three-quarters of the income for the International Olympic Committee — $5.7 billion in a four-year cycle — is from broadcast rights.

Any change would cause massive disruption to the 11,000 Olympic athletes and another 5,000 Paralympic athletes — and their staffs, families and coaches. Tokyo hotels are booked solid during the Olympics — not to mention flights — with 7.8 million tickets available for the Olympics, and 2.3 million for the Paralympics.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Published at Sat, 22 Feb 2020 13:48:32 +0000

Wrestler Adds to Abuse Allegations Against University Doctor

Wrestler Adds to Abuse Allegations Against University Doctor

An Olympic wrestler on Thursday accused a University of Michigan doctor of touching him inappropriately during medical exams at the school and said the physician’s reputation for such conduct was well known among his teammates.

Andy Hrovat, who competed for the U.S. in the 2008 Summer Olympics, told The Associated Press that the encounters with the late Dr. Robert E. Anderson happened during his freshman year in 1998.

“I would like to let people know that it’s OK to come out,” Hrovat said in an interview from his attorney’s office in Denver. “It’s OK to let your voice be heard.”

He is the first athlete to make public accusations against Anderson following complaints this week from other former students that the doctor sexually abused them decades ago. The revelations echo high-profile sexual abuse allegations made against sports doctors at other universities.

“I was warned about him from teammates, saying, ‘If anything happens and you go see the doctor, he’s going to inappropriately touch you, that’s just what Dr. A does,’” Hrovat recalled.

He declined to describe the exam, saying he was uncomfortable talking about it.

“To me, the mental part of it of having to go in there knowing that this doctor was going to touch you inappropriately is what sticks out most in my mind,” he said.

Hrovat said he did not tell then-Michigan wrestling coach Dale Bahr or anyone in athletic administration about Anderson’s conduct.

“In my mind, he normalized what he was doing and made you think that was just a normal part of the procedure,” he said. “So why would you tell somebody?”

Also Thursday, the university president apologized to “anyone who was harmed” by Anderson. His comment came a day after the school announced that it had launched an investigation into Anderson’s behavior following abuse allegations from five former patients.

Another former student, Gary Bailey, told the AP that Anderson dropped his pants and asked him to fondle his genitals in a medical exam during Bailey’s senior year in 1968 or 1969. Bailey said he filled out a complaint form to the University Health Service within a month or so, writing that the behavior was “inappropriate.”

“I never heard anything about it ever again,” said Bailey, now 72.

Officials have acknowledged that some university employees were aware of accusations against the doctor prior to a 2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.

University President Mark Schlissel opened a meeting of the school’s Board of Regents Thursday by reading a prepared statement about Anderson, who died in 2008.

“The patient-physician relationship involves a solemn commitment and trust,” he said. “The allegations are highly disturbing. On behalf of the university, I apologize to anyone who was harmed by Dr. Anderson.”

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Thursday that, since the investigation was announced, 22 people have called a hotline to report on interactions with the onetime director of the University Health Service and physician for the football team. Fitzgerald said he did not have detailed information about the individual callers or what they described. He said some of the callers reported having no issues with Anderson.

“It was a traumatic thing at the time,” Bailey said of his experience with Anderson. While the abuse has not “ruined my life or anything, it may have other people and that’s why I’m bringing my story to light.”

Bailey, who is gay, said Anderson “preyed a little bit on people who were gay … because he sort of thought that they wouldn’t say anything because, you know, people were pretty closeted back then.” He said he told friends about the abuse decades ago.

Bailey, of Dowagiac, Michigan, first publicly spoke to The Detroit News.

Another man, Robert Julian Stone, told the AP on Wednesday that Anderson assaulted him during a medical appointment at the university’s health center in 1971. Stone said he alerted university officials last summer, inspired by the national #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.

The AP left phone messages with two of Anderson’s three children. An email was sent to the third seeking comment.

Fitzgerald said he could not elaborate on investigators’ finding that some university employees were aware of accusations against the doctor prior to the 2018 complaint that led to a police investigation.

John Manly, a lawyer for many of the hundreds of victims of now-imprisoned former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar, said Thursday that half a dozen people have called his California-based firm alleging abuse by Anderson – mostly ex-football players and wrestlers. He said they were fearful of what could happen to their positions on teams or at the school if they reported what he did to them.

“As men in their 30s up to their 60s, there is a real shame associated with this,” he said. “Most didn’t speak up because they were concerned he wouldn’t clear them to play. And if you’re not cleared by the doctor, you lose your athletic scholarship. He had tremendous control. These at the time boys and young men were subjected to this stuff knowing that if they said anything, they were fearful he would retaliate.”

Manly urged the university to ensure that alleged victims have a neutral third party, either law enforcement or a counseling service, to call to discuss what happened to them. He said he is concerned that the school has asked people to reach out directly through the hotline.

“My experience has been that’s much more about liability protection than helping the victims,” Manly said. “It’s really important that one of America’s greatest universities act like it and treat these people not as adversaries but as people that are injured and that deserve support. My fear is that’s not happening.”

The university said the July 2018 complaint came from a former student athlete who wrote to Athletic Director Warde Manuel alleging abuse by Anderson during medical exams in the early 1970s.

Fitzgerald said he also could not answer questions about the scope of the police investigation, including whether investigators reviewed Anderson’s resignation as head of the health service in 1980 or his retirement in 2003.

The university police department referred the AP to the university’s Division of Public Safety and Security for questions about the investigation. A spokeswoman for the division did not immediately return an email with specific questions about the investigation.

Washtenaw County prosecutors first received the police department’s report in late April or early May of 2019, said Steven Hiller, assistant chief prosecuting attorney.

A prosecutor concluded that summer that no criminal charges could be authorized because the primary suspect had died and none of the offenses were within Michigan’s six-year statute of limitations, Hiller said Thursday.

The university had said Wednesday in a statement that it was making the information public following a determination on Tuesday by prosecutors that no criminal charges would be authorized. Fitzgerald referred questions about the discrepancy to the county prosecutor’s office and did not immediately respond to additional inquiries.

Associated Press researchers Jennifer Farrar, Randy Herschaft and Rhonda Shafner in New York and AP Writer Tammy Webber in Chicago and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

Published at Fri, 21 Feb 2020 17:50:45 +0000

White Sox’s Rick Renteria Gets a Full Shot at Turning Team Around

White Sox’s Rick Renteria Gets a Full Shot at Turning Team Around

Rick Renteria has been here before. He was managing the Chicago Cubs in 2014 when they were building a team that would end its century-long championship drought.

But just as that team was coming together for a four-year postseason run, Renteria’s contract was terminated when the Cubs had a chance to bring in free-agent manager Joe Maddon.

Now 58, Renteria landed with the White Sox and replaced Robin Ventura as manager just as the team began its own massive rebuilding project. Now in his fourth season on the South Side, Renteria’s patience is finally getting rewarded.

Expectations are high for the White Sox for the first time in a decade, and Renteria is ready for it.

“I’m very happy right now,” Renteria said Thursday at Camelback Ranch. “The task is not complete but there is satisfaction.

“It’s like seeing your kids grow up, there are a lot of ups and downs that go along with it, some tears, some great laughter and some great harmony and joy.”

Renteria’s personality can be stern at times, such as when players have been benched for not hustling, but the warmer side usually wins out in the long run.

Tim Anderson will always remember conversations with Renteria three years ago after the shortstop’s close friend was killed in Alabama.

“He helped to me to become a better person,” Anderson said. “He helped me through a lot of my dark moments, just being able to talk to somebody, tell him whatever’s on my mind. His door is open. Having a manager like that makes it easy to come to work.”

Anderson led the major leagues in batting average (.335) last season, a huge step forward from a .240 season in 2018. That was satisfying to Renteria, who is still pushing Anderson to improve his defense where he led the majors in errors last season.

All-Star pitcher Lucas Giolito was going through a particularly difficult stretch in a 2018 season. He had the highest ERA in baseball (6.13) among qualified pitchers. But Renteria had his back.

“I had two or three starts in a row where I didn’t make it out of the early innings,” Giolito said. “We get into a hotel late one night and I happened to be in the same elevator as Ricky and he just grabs me behind the head and whispers to me, ‘You’re going to be an All-Star.’

“I’m thinking, I got a lot of work to do. But he’s looking me in the eyes and saying that to me as I’m sitting on a 6-plus ERA.”

Giolito turned it around last year, making Renteria’s prediction come true with a 3.41 ERA while striking out nearly twice as many batters as the previous season and cutting the amount of walks.

“That meant a lot to me at the time and it means a lot to me now,” Giolito said. “He had that confidence in me when I didn’t even have it. That’s our manager.”

As Renteria said, there still is work to do. The White Sox were 72-89 last season, 28 1-2 games behind AL Central champion Minnesota.

But with the continued development of young stars, plus the additions of marquee free agents such as Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion and Dallas Keuchel, the future looks very bright.

And this time, it looks like Renteria will be around to enjoy the good times.

“Even though it’s been hard over the last few years, you always have to keep the big picture in mind. I know that we’re in a better place at this moment,” Renteria said.

“We are hoping to fulfill the promise that lies before us.”

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Published at Fri, 21 Feb 2020 00:05:28 +0000

Malfunctioning crossing gates at Route 21 causing traffic problems in Libertyville

Malfunctioning crossing gates at Route 21 causing traffic problems in Libertyville

Malfunctioning railroad crossing gates at Route 21 in Libertyville snarled traffic this morning.

The malfunction was reported just before 8 a.m. and put traffic at a standstill between Winchester Road and Casey Road, according to reports.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Police are urging motorists to find alternate routes and avoid the area.

There is no word on what caused the gates to malfunction.

Published at Thu, 20 Feb 2020 13:49:15 +0000

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich returns to Chicago, maintains innocence

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich returns to Chicago, maintains innocence

CHICAGO — Rod Blagojevich walked out of prison Tuesday after President Donald Trump cut short the 14-year prison sentence handed to the former Illinois governor for political corruption.

The Republican president said the punishment imposed on the Chicago Democrat and one-time contestant on Trump’s reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice” was excessive.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

‘œSo he’ll be able to go back home with his family,’� Trump told reporters in Washington. ‘œThat was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion and in the opinion of many others.’�

The Chicago Tribune on Tuesday night posted a photo of thesilver-haired Blagojevich at Denver International Airport, where he later boarded a plane for Chicago.Blagojevich was famously fastidious about his dark hair as governor, but it went all white because hair dyes are banned in prison.

Promising he will have more to say in a Wednesday news conference, Blagojevich told WGN-TV he appreciated the president’s action.

‘œI’m profoundly grateful to President Trump and it’s a profound and everlasting gratitude,’� Blagojevich said. ‘œHe didn’t have to do this, he’s a Republican president and I was a Democratic governor. I’ll have a lot more to say tomorrow.’�

Blagojevich wouldn’t say what plans he had for the future, however he did talk a bit about his time in prison.

“I’ve learned a lot about the criminal justice system, how unfair it can be, how unjust it is to people of color,’� he said. ‘œI’ve drawn closer to God. There is divine intervention in all of this.’�

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Blagojevich said he heard about his commutation when other inmates told him they saw it on the news,” he said, adding that he “had no inkling it was coming.”

The former governor told ABC-TV Chicago that his future plans are to “turn evil into good.’�

“I’m going to fight against the corrupt criminal justice system that all too often persecutes and prosecutes people who did nothing wrong, who over-sentences people, show no mercy, and who are in positions who have no accountability,” Blagojevich said. ‘œThey can do whatever they want. They can put you into prison for things that aren’t crimes.’�

Blagojevich, 63, hails from a state with a long history of pay-to-play schemes. He was convicted in 2011 of crimes that included seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and trying to shake down a children’s hospital.

Trump had said repeatedly in recent years that he was considering taking executive action in Blagojevich’s case, only to back away from the idea.

One of Blagojevich’s lawyers said she refused to believe it at first when word of her client’s possible release began to spread, fearing that the president might not follow through.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

‘œWhen it became obvious it was real, I got tears in my eyes,” said Lauren Kaesberg. ‘œIt was overwhelming.’�

Others in Illinois, including the governor, said setting Blagojevich free was a mistake.

Trump ‘œhas abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I deeply believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time,’� Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a written statement.

Many Republicans agreed.

‘œIn a state where corrupt, machine-style politics is still all too common, it’s important that those found guilty serve their prison sentence in its entirety,” said the the chairman of the Illinois GOP, Tim Schneider.

Trump made clear that he saw similarities between efforts to investigate his own conduct and those who took down Blagojevich.

‘œIt was a prosecution by the same people – Comey, Fitzpatrick, the same group,” Trump said. He was referring to Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Blagojevich and now represents former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired from the agency in May 2017.

Trump also granted clemency to financier Michael Milken, who served two years in prison in the early 1990s after pleading guilty to violating U.S. securities laws, and pardoned former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who served just over three years for tax fraud and lying to the White House while being interviewed to be Homeland Security secretary.

The Illinois House in January 2009 voted 114-1 to impeach Blagojevich, and the state Senate voted unanimously to remove him, making him the first Illinois governor in history to be removed by lawmakers. He entered prison in March 2012.

Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, went on a media blitz in 2018 to encourage Trump to step in, praising the president and likening the investigation of her husband to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election – a probe Trump long characterized as a ‘œwitch hunt.’�

Blagojevich’s conviction was notable, even in a state where four of the last 10 governors have gone to prison for corruption. Judge James Zagel – who sentenced Blagojevich to the longest prison term yet for an Illinois politician – said when a governor ‘œgoes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured.”

After his Dec. 9, 2008, arrest while still governor, Blagojevich became known for his foul-mouthed rants on wiretaps. On the most notorious recording, he gushed about profiting by naming someone to the seat Obama vacated to become president: ‘œI’ve got this thing and it’s f—— golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f—— nothing.’�

Prosecutors have balked at the notion long promoted by Blagojevich that he engaged in common political horse-trading and was a victim of an overzealous U.S. attorney. After Blagojevich’s arrest, Fitzgerald said the governor had gone on “a political corruption crime spree” that would make Abraham Lincoln turn over in his grave.

A joint statement from Fitzgerald and the lead prosecutors at Blagojevich’s trial, none of whom work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago anymore, stopped short of criticizing Trump’s decision. But they highlighted the convictions, including for trying to shake down the children’s hospital, saying, ‘œMr. Blagojevich remains a felon.”

Mueller – a subject of Trump’s derision – was FBI director during the investigation into Blagojevich. Fitzgerald is now a private attorney for Comey, whom Trump dismissed from the agency in May 2017.

Trump expressed some sympathy for Blagojevich when he appeared on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2010, before his first corruption trial started. When Trump “fired” Blagojevich as a contestant, he praised him for how he was fighting his criminal case, telling him, ‘œYou have a hell of a lot of guts.’�

Blagojevich’s first trial ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict, except for a single conviction, for lying to the FBI.

At his second trial in 2011, Blagojevich testified, describing himself as a flawed dreamer grounded in his parents’ working-class values. He sought to humanize himself to counteract the seemingly greedy governor heard on wiretap recordings played in court. He said the hours of FBI recordings were the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud.

He was convicted on 18 counts. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in 2015 tossed out five of the convictions, including ones in which he offered to appoint someone to a high-paying job in the Senate.

The appeals court ordered the trial judge to resentence Blagojevich but suggested it would be appropriate to hand him the same sentence, given the gravity of the crimes.

“I’ve made a whole bunch of mistakes but I didn’t break any laws,” Blagojevich said in Denver before boarding his Chicago-bound commercial flight Tuesday night. “I crossed no lines. And the things I talked about doing were legal and this was routine politics and the ones who did it are the ones who broke the laws and the ones who frankly should meet and face some accountability.”

___

Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm. Associated Press Writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the Rod Blagojevich case: https://www.apnews.com/RodBlagojevich.

Published at Wed, 19 Feb 2020 16:30:00 +0000